Ooh! Suit you Sir

24th March 2015

Much was made of content marketing during 2014 as companies made their first tentative steps towards developing unified strategies for audience engagement and customer acquisition. With this in place companies are starting to refocus on the idea of content personalisation.

Content personalisation is nothing new – the ability to personalise content has been available within Kentico and other CXM systems for a while now – but very few companies were truly in a position to leverage this powerful functionality. At MMT Digital, we have been introducing online marketing concepts to our clients for a few years now and personalisation is always on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The mere mention of the word illuminates a whole new world of possibility and has clients salivating like kids on Christmas morning.

However, the reality is very different from the vision and, in our experience, when clients get to the task of personalising content it can seem daunting and scary. And this is a natural reaction. While technology leaps forwards, the content management systems employed by businesses are often updated every 3-5 years so they experience giant leaps forward each time.

Kentico and other systems offer a wide range of online marketing features and the message is loud and clear – “You have the power!” This is all well and good but where do you start…For me, the key is to start simple and break it down into small chunks. When looking at the marketing strategy for any new client, we look at 5 fundamental questions to help provide a starting point. While the following information is geared towards the functionality held within Kentico, much of what is outlined below can be applied to a range of online marketing systems.

Slow and steady wins the race!

Now you have all this power, the temptation is to dive straight in. It’s the classic “big red button” scenario and the inner child is screaming to play with its new toys. But before you do jump in, how much do you actually know about your audience?

It’s important to take a step back and see what you know. Applying personalisation without having that information is akin to stepping into a minefield with a blindfold on. A lot of what you will be doing is either second guessing your customer base or attempting to imprint your own expectations onto your customer base – both of which can do more harm than good.

Kentico is gathering analytics all the time and can deliver those analytics through a series of reports that help you understand where people are visiting on the site, what they are downloading, what they are purchasing, etc. Simple analysis of this data after a month (for argument’s sake) can start to highlight certain trends and you can funnel this information into your own personalisation activities.

Keep it simple

Content personalisation within Kentico is a powerful tool and it opens the door to a realm of possibility. Inevitably, this is a double-edged sword. Following the “oohs and “aahs”, the cogs start turning and the fingers start twiddling. It starts with an idea and swiftly spirals into elaborate rules and plots that would unnerve the most maniacal of Bond villains.

Creating elaborate rules seems like a good idea at the time as it will make your site seem super clever but quite often the effort put in outweighs the return. Once again you run the risk of “imprinting” and this is a dangerous practice.

A smarter idea is to start simple. Kentico comes with a whole host of rules out of the box. They’re an excellent place to start. With these in place, you can start to review how these rules work and start to modify and expand your rules gradually using actual data to help understand how users are using your site.

Consider your audience

This seems like a no-brainer and many will scoff at such a thought. But take a moment to consider how your audience will perceive personalisation. In some cases – let’s say an online store – personalisation is welcome. As long as it is done well and it correctly interprets my behaviour it can nudge me to spend a little more.

However, not everyone’s site is an online store and in some cases we are looking at charity or information sites. Personalisation can be a faulty grenade and the wrong assumption or the wrong rule could ultimately lead to offence. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t use personalisation here but we should consider what we are personalising and how it could be construed.

How much of your time are you willing to spend?

It is very easy to apply personalisation within Kentico and there is a temptation to personalise everything, delivering a 5* experience that would make Roman Abramovich quiver. However, what is often lost here is the amount of work that goes into personalisation. The point here is that you can’t just consider the initial set up. Personalisation is an ongoing task and requires an ongoing commitment.

At the start of the any project, think clearly about what you might want to personalise. There’s no question that this can be tricky but with an experienced partner to guide you through you can start to establish realistic personalisation goals.

Never stop analysing!

One of the oldest tricks in the book is to set up personalisation and to leave it running. The common misconception is that it will just do its job in the background and you can reap the rewards. But we’re dealing with people and people can be an eclectic bunch!The importance of analytics cannot be underestimated. Kentico can deliver reports that help you to understand how your variants are performing and where there is room for improvement. You can funnel this information into your variants and tweak to meet expectations.

Where next?

So there you have it – a few steps to consider as you’re getting started. But this is merely the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much to consider around personalisation – it’s fair to say there’s an entire science behind it. If you’re interested in knowing some more about personalisation and want to see how it could work for your business, drop us a line! Rich Madigan is a Project Manager and Kentico Consultant here at MMT Digital. When not managing his own projects and pioneering Kentico standards alongside our own Kentico MVP Ilesh Mistry, he can often be found working on the best strategies for the implementation of the Kentico EMS.

The original article can be found at http://www.mmtdigital.co.uk/ooh-suit-you-sir